Apple's new ResearchKit raises hopes, questions for medical studies
- Apple's ResarchKit platform, which is based on the company's soon-to-be introduced operating system, allows medical researchers to track patients' vital signs and behaviors.
- In addition, Apple has introduced a digital watch device (Apple Watch) with heart-monitoring and other capabilities—with price-points ranging from $350 to more than $10,000.
- The ResearchKit was developed collaboratively with Apple and numerous highly regarded research institutions, such as the University of Oxford and Stanford.
Apple has turned theory into reality with its ReseachKit platform and companion HealthKit software, which allows iPhones to track various fitness and health metrics. The benefits from a researchers' perspective are obvious, starting with the ability to capture and track large amounts of data. In fact, one noteworthy application is the Massachusetts General Hospital's GlucoSuccess app, which allows diabetics participating in clinical trials to provide feedback on how diet and exercise patterns impact daily glucose readings.
There is a downside, however. One challenge is that this research tool is useful on a population of individuals who can afford iPhones, which automatically decreases the level of socioeconomic diversity in the study. In addition, this platform, which is intended to facilitate data capture, could lead to dishonesty among participants and actually sully the data that researchers receive.
Finally, the FDA has cautioned that like other medical devices Apple's new research platform should not be associated with unfounded medical claims. Regardless, Apple's product introduction is generating excitement (and plenty of questions) in the medical research community.
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